January 15, 1999
OSU Athletic Communications
by Robin Jentes
Jon Sanderson came to Ohio State as a wide-eyed teenager from Lexington, Ohio and as a true freshman started 28 games. He had to deal with more ups and downs than the average college student-athlete last season.
One of Coach Jim O’Brien’s first players on a rebuilding team, Sanderson was away from home and learning a new system. Unlike most basketball players in the Big Ten Conference, Sanderson was forced to play right away and expected to play well.
After the Buckeyes finished the season with an 8-22 overall record and an 11th place finish in the Big Ten, Sanderson knew change was necessary. He averaged a solid 9. 1 points and 5.5 rebound as a true freshman starter. Certainly Sanderson would like to improve his stats and contributions to the team. That will come with hard work in practice. Where he felt a change was most needed had nothing to do with basketball.
“I have had lots of struggles in my life,” Sanderson said. “I am now a completely different person, because I am now a Christian.” Now in his sophomore season, Sanderson acknowledged to be a better basketball player, he needed to be a better person. Someone that kept grounded, worked hard and always put his family first, which Sanderson has done through the renewal of his faith. At the end of the season and through the support of friends, teammates and family, Sanderson began to look for these hidden traits.
One of his biggest supporters is his mother. “My mom has been a great influence on me,” Sanderson said. “She has always been supportive of me in everything, not just basketball. Most importantly she has always been there for me.” Sanderson had always been able to talk to his mother, Sandy, and through their many discussions, Sanderson began the transition to a young adult. The two were able to analyze his feelings and thoughts on his role in life and soon Sanderson began to find his true self. “He has always been a great kid,” Sandy said. “However, now when I talk to him, I am talking to a mature, responsible adult.”
Sanderson’s humility has carried on to the basketball court as well. This season, his numbers are down from last year, but the result has been more victories for the Buckeyes. “This year, my numbers are down and my minutes are less but like everyone I am here to win,” Sanderson said. “Now my role is to lead by example and be a team player. I will continue to do my best and help my team in points and rebounds.”
Sanderson has not only shown his desire to win but also his strong commitment to his teammates and coaches. “Jon is very loyal to his team and his coaches,” Sandy said. “He wants to win and will work hard in any way to help his team.” Sanderson’s parents were the first to instill the value of supporting a family through hard work.
In Lexington, Ohio, Sanderson’s father, John, is an electrical engineer and his mother is a school teacher.
“My father is constantly getting called in to do more work. To see that commitment to his job and to our family, is a great inspiration for me in basketball,” Sanderson said. “I am happy to help them out by getting my education through basketball.” And with that opportunity, Sanderson has carried on his pursuit of getting a degree. Sanderson is majoring in hospitality management and hopes one day to own his own business.
“I love to eat and I love to go out and eat, so once basketball is over, I would like to own my own restaurant,” Sanderson said.
This season, Sanderson is focused on playing well and consistently. In the last 15 games, Sanderson has averaged 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds and with his biggest game being against Tennessee Tech, where he scored a season-high 18 points.
“Our goal is to be a contender for the Big Ten Championship and receive a bid in the NCAA tournament,” Sanderson said. “If we work hard in practice and outwork are opponents we can accomplish those goals. Our biggest goal has always been to keep winning.” Sanderson, who has started all 15 games this season, has been a major contribution to the Buckeyes’ 12-3 start. With the help of his teammates, coaches and family, Sanderson is likely to continue being a major figure within the OSU program and the Columbus community.
“I just want do the best that I possibly can for my team, my coaches, my family and the fans,” Sanderson said. “If I do that, I will have nothing to be ashamed of when my four years are up as a Buckeye.”